Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Elder Sign: An Unboxing and First Solo Session

Elder Sign finally made its way into my life on Saturday. It wasn't until Sunday that I was able to sit down, crack it open, and play a game. The wait was a long one but in my estimation, well worth it. 

First of all, I was happy to see that the trend begun in Rune Age of providing zip lock baggies for storage was continued with ES. All of the components are, of course, top notch and visually appealing.

After popping the components out of their casings, I sat down for a game. Now, first of all, you have to know that I am a huge fan of the Mythos. I have Lovecraft's complete tales on my Kindle. Every fall we Starshielders pull out a Cthulhu RPG and let it take us through the dead season, winter. This year it is going to be Realms of Cthulhu by Reality Blurs, a game we have played in the past and which works really well for us. Weezoh also owns Munchkin Cthulhu, Arkham Horror, and Mansions of Madness. In addition, I am reading Fantasy Flight's novel Ghouls of the Miskatonic by Graham Mcneill, an excellent read, by the way! 

To say we enjoy us some Lovecraft is an understatement. My anticipation for this game was great. 
For my first game, I revealed a character at random to play. It was the doctor, Vincent Lee. His special ability is to restore a point of Stamina every turn.

The Great Old One I pulled was Shub-Niggurath. 

His special ability is particularly difficult. Having to roll an extra Terror icon is...well...a terror. I set up the Arkham Museum, turned over a Mythos card and was off and running...for my life. 

The game flows smoothly once you get the hang of the rules. The clock mechanic is brilliant and adds to the tension in the game. Knowing when to Focus dice and when to use Spells and Items, provides enough decisions to make me a happy gamer. Not to mention trying to decide which Adventure Card to attempt based on the Rewards of the card add a nice level of decision-making: "Do I go for more Elder Signs or should I go for this Adventure which will provide me with more Items and Spells..." I love those kinds of decisions. 

I didn't gather many Elder Signs in time, and the Old Goat of the Woods awoke. I fought against him valiantly, and in the end defeated him in the nick of time. I was almost out of Trophies.

What I Didn't Like: You have to read the rules on this game carefully! Very carefully. Important rules to for effective gameplay are in a single line at the beginning of a paragraph. I believe most of the complaints about this game revolving around this game being too easy actually come from people missing some little rule nuance here or some important reference there.

The rules could be a bit clearer in places like defining a Turn. I also wasn't sure about how the dice work when fighting the Great Old One. Is it possible to regain dice after succeeding on its Task bar? I hope the next time I play, I manage to play the game as it was meant to be played.

What I Liked: Everything else. With 48 Adventure Cards, 8 Ancient Ones, 16 Investigators, I see a lot of replay ability for me.

What I Loved: The theme on this game, the flavor text, the artwork, the tension from not knowing how the dice are going to fall; all of these things make this game a blast for me. I immersed myself in the rooms of the Arkham Museum and toured its stuffy and dangerous rooms. I reveled in my journey to Yuggoth.

For me games are about setting, conflict, and tension. Elder Sign has that in spades. I look forward to playing it again and again.

Until next time, good reader, may the dice fall your way and may you play, play, play. 

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